Jeep Wrangler opens Unlimited horizons
The new Wrangler may be more refined and generally less rough around the edges, but it’s still the “lean, rugged and simple” vehicle it’s been for 65 years.
When it came time to totally redesign its Wrangler for 2007, Jeep was very conscious not to mess with success. You see, like the Miata roadster for Mazda, or the 911 for Porsche, the Wrangler defines the essence of what Jeep stands for.
So the new Wrangler may be more refined, available for the first time as a 4-door, and generally less rough around the edges, but it’s still the “lean, rugged and simple” vehicle it’s been for 65 years.
Without getting too technical, the ‘07 Wrangler rides on a new chassis that is 100 per cent stiffer than that of the old model. A softer suspension set-up gives it a much more refined ride when not tackling the trails.
The Wrangler interior is still utilitarian, though materials and fits are improved.
The interior is still utilitarian, though materials and fits are improved and, for the first time, power windows, locks and keyless entry are offered. There’s still a surfeit of exposed metal and other bits, but Jeep says that’s what its owners want. Several hundred hours of wind tunnel testing has helped diminish wind noise and sound deadening materials have been added to noticeable effect — the Wranglers’ cabin is 20 per quieter than that of the old TJ model it replaces.
As mentioned, the truly unique Unlimited model becomes the first 4-door Wrangler and the only 4-door convertible on the market. The 5-seater Unlimited’s frame is 523 mm (20.6 in.) longer than that of the 2-door Wrangler, adding rear passenger room and nearly tripling the cargo space. With the 60/40-split rear seat folded, Jeep says there’s more volume in the back than you’ll find in Toyota’s FJ Cruiser, the Nissan Xterra or Hummer H3.
The 2-door Wrangler comes base X, mid-range Sahara, and top-line Rubicon trim, with prices starting at $19,995 and topping out at $28,150 for the Rubicon. Similar trim offerings prevail with the 4-door Unlimited but pricing begins at $24,505 for the Unlimited X and rise to $29,895 on the Rubicon version.
Easily the most welcome change to the new Wrangler, though, is the new standard 3.8-litre V6 engine, borrowed from DC’s minivan family but beefed up to meet Jeep’s durability requirements. Making 205 horsepower (three less in the 4-door), it delivers power easily over a broad rev range. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard and a 4-speed automatic optional. This powertrain, coupled with the vehicle’s traditional toughness, gives the Wrangler mountain goat capabilities. It can tackle trails you’d hesitate to walk on, let alone drive.
The Wrangler’s safety content has grown too, with standard Electronic Stability program (ESP), 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electronic roll mitigation, dual-stage airbags and optional seat-mounted side airbags.
It’s always worrisome when an automaker sets about remaking an icon. Thankfully, Jeep has made some smart choices with its new Wrangler.
2007 Jeep Wrangler
Type: Compact 4/5-pass SUV 4WD
Price: $19,995 - $28,895
Engine: 3.8-litre V6 OHV
Horsepower: 205 @ 5,200 rpm
Torque: 240 @ 4,000 rpm
Highlights: Addition of 4-door model, softer suspension, more modern standard V6 engine, improved on-road stability, power windows and locks now available.